How would you describe what you do in a nutshell?
I’m a software engineer who primarily works on the wide range open source client libraries and SDKs we have at Snowplow, particularly around web and server side data collection although most recently I’ve been working on our Kafka integration. I spend my time bouncing between a variety of different technologies and programming languages on a daily basis. As a lead at Snowplow I have responsibilities within the Data Value engineering team, ensuring the team is heading in the right direction and hopefully helping the team make the right decisions to get there.
What does an average day look like for you?
My days are often quite varied. I like to keep either full or half days clear of meetings so that I can really focus on getting some engineering done, then I group my meetings together the best I can. From an engineering point of view, there are a couple of core things I usually find myself doing – either working on a new feature within one of our libraries, interacting with the community on Github or Discourse or I’m reviewing Pull Requests from other engineers in the team. As for meetings, I’m involved in a real variety, from working with Product on what’s next to team catch ups and wider engineering meetings, all the way to sitting down with customers to discuss their problems and finding solutions for them, often involving some live pair programming to get them on the right track.
How did you get to do what you are doing?
It’s been a slightly strange journey for me but one where I’ve felt incredibly lucky to have been on. After graduating from University (studying computer games programming!), I had a two different jobs in the first two years but then I stumbled across a Lecturer position at my University for the course I’d completed, I wasn’t entirely sure I was qualified enough for it at the time but I took a chance, applied, and a couple of interviews later I was suddenly a University lecturer! I stayed in education for around 3 years then moved to be an educator in a private organisation, where I’d train and upskill existing engineers, and onboard graduates and other engineers into the organisation. However, after a couple more years of this I was getting the itch to get coding full time again and it’s this transition that led me to the land of analytics and data. I landed a role at Hotjar which was a great learning opportunity to get back into engineering for me and opened my eyes to the world of analytics and data. After my year there I went back to my previous company, where I pitched to start a data team as I’d identified what I felt to be a great opportunity for them. That’s where I found Snowplow! Snowplow became an important part of our new data stack and after building out the new data function, I decided the opportunity to move to Snowplow was too enticing to turn down.
How does working for Snowplow compare to previous roles?
I’ve been lucky enough to work at some great companies (and some not so great!) and a big factor in those great ones has been the great leadership and great culture. Snowplow also falls right into this category, along with a vision and guiding principles that I can easily get behind. This leaves me with a feeling that I’m working on something really meaningful that can make an impact, particularly for those in data teams (which I used to be!). One of the aspects of being an engineer at Snowplow is the empowerment I have to make my own decisions, I feel like a lot of companies say their engineers are empowered, but I really feel like we are at Snowplow. Working on mainly Open Source software means we have to make calls on how to communicate with the community, what Pull Requests we need to include and how, as well as making architectural and design decisions on the libraries and sdks that we’re working on.
How do you make the most out of remote working?
It’s been a strange year for remote working. The pandemic and lockdowns have certainly meant that working remotely has not been what it usually is. I’m a huge fan of remote working, I can work on my own timeframes, such as going for a little walk to clear my mind without feeling like I’m slacking off, and I also really like the freedom to go and sit in a coffee shop for a few hours. Having no commute is also a big benefit, although I do go for walks before and after work to create separation between my work and personal life. As an engineer, a really important aspect is how It’s possible to really get into the zone when coding as a remote worker, with strategic meeting planning and other updates being done asynchronously, I can find long periods in my day when I can mute my notifications and get my head down. It’s wonderful when compared to the constant distractions in the office. I do occasionally miss the office banter, but there are still plenty of opportunities around (and in) meetings and on Slack to have a good laugh!
What does the rest of the year look like for you?
I’m looking forward to building out Snowplow support for the new Server-Side Google Tag Manager, it’s a really interesting new technology for data and analytics teams, and it fits nicely as a complement to the Snowplow ecosystem. I’m also excited about the growth of the engineering team, we have loads of opportunities to build some really awesome technology over the coming year (and beyond) and I’m looking forward to being a part of it! As for personal, I’m hoping to go on holiday towards the end of the year (I still have a credit note from April 2020 that’s only valid until October!) but right now I’ll take anything that gets me out and about a little more! I’m writing this from an Airbnb in the middle of Dartmoor National Park where I’ve been exploring this week with my wife and dog, all the fresh air has been wonderful.
If you could see yourself working alongside Paul in the Data Value team, head over to our careers page and get in touch today.